Sometime last year Microsoft launched a new console called Xbone, maybe you've heard about it? Maybe you've forgotten about the thing itself, but I'm pretty sure everyone remembers the big reveal and the hilarity. Man, that was something! I don't know what surprised me more, that Microsoft would fuck up to such epic heights or that public reaction would matter as much as it did.
Alas, that's all in the past now. Microsoft has learned its lessons, backtracked on the most egregious "features", all but abandoned the "TVTVTVTVTVTVTVTVTVTV" pitch and is crawling back to gamers begging for forgiveness. They even got rid of Kinect and achieved price parity with Sony's PS4. So now is the time to look at the Xbone squarely on its own merits. It's silly to harbor ill will towards it because of what Microsoft did in the past. It's just a game console man, it's about fun and games! Real mature adults make rational cost benefit analysis, they don't cling to fanboyish grudges!
Well, I reject that. Or rather, I don't reject that clinging to fanboyish grudges is silly, I regret that the only thing we should take into account when making a purchase decision is the product itself. And that is why I've never had an Xbox console, and likely never will. It's not because I hate Microsoft, it's not because of the Xbone, it's not even because of that ill-fated reveal. It's in part because I simply don't trust them, and I believe that should count for something.
I didn't trust the Xbox from the very beginning because I never believed in Microsoft's commitment to games, and I always saw the Xbox as a trojan horse to their famous dreams of living room domination (remember, that was before mobile and tablets made that dream obsolete). I also feared that Microsoft would behave much like a huge supermarket chain does when it arrives in a new market. Their new supermarket sells everything super cheap and loses money for months or even years, losses that would kill the supermarket if it was a single company, but easily absorbed by the larger chain. Then, when the local competition goes under, with the gleeful support of short sighted consumers, they raise prices again.
In part I feared that Microsoft would do that to Nintendo, Sony(even at its height, Sony could never compete with Microsoft in a "let's see who can lose more billions" competition, much less now that it's selling real state to pay the bills) and Sega. Well, Sega didn't even live long enough to compete with the Xbox, but anyways.
Fortunately, that didn't happen, but beyond that, I always suspected that, if Microsoft ever achieved a dominant position in the console market or worse, forced out Sony or Nintendo, it would show its true colors. By "showing its true colors" I don't mean making us all Bill Gate's personal bitches, I mean focusing on it real goal and leave games aside.
The Xbone reveal didn't make me not want an Xbox, it simply confirmed what I always suspected. But what about now? Didn't they change everything? Why should that still matter?
Because nothing really changed. They were simply forced to retreat and regroup by the market, but the goals that spawned the original Xbone are still the same, and they have said so themselves. They are down but not out, and if Xbox ever recovers from this, the 24-7 always-on TVTVTVTV "services" or its future equivalent will make a comeback at the first opportunity.
Why not mistrust Sony? Sure I did, it's always good to maintain a healthy skepticism of corporations, but Sony is a hardware company. Sony never had grand ambitions of owning the living room, the Playstation was never a trojan horse for anything other than more Playstations, and Sony quickly displayed a real commitments to games and by extension, gamers. And no wonder: while the Xbox has always been a black hole for Microsoft, something of a vanity project that investors never liked and to this day still want to see it axed, Playstation soon became a core pillar of Sony's business, so much so that its success allowed it to, for a time, ignore the rot nearly everywhere else.
Yet, according to some, none of this should matter, I should simply look at the games and the price and the console and make an "objective decision", and I don't get that. Game publishers are always screwing us over, and we're forever complaining that they're "losing our trust", as if that means something. Well, what's the point of having consumers' trust if there's no business upside to that? What's the point of fostering "trust" if a company can do whatever and as soon as it launches a new product, we're supposed to forget everything?
Trust matters, or it should. When a company with a history of being very, very untrustworthy like EA does something, people are instinctively mistrustful, for good reason. Then, when a company that has earned trust does something similar and the reaction is better, there are always those who scream "OMG LOOK AT THE DOUBLE STANDARDS LOLZ".
That makes no sense. There is no double standard, there is a very clear standard. We tend to be hostile to companies we mistrust, and more receptive to those we trust, as it should be. Again, what's the point of building trust with consumers if taking that trust into account when making purchasing decisions is somehow discouraged?
While I obviously don't want Xbox to succeed given all my misgivings, this isn't meant to be an Anti-Xbox consumer manifesto, it isn't an attack on people who like it. There were even crazies who liked the ORIGINAL reveal, imagine that, and I'm totally not talking about The ScholarlyGamer!
It's fine if you really like Xbox and isn't bothered by any of that, but if you are, don't buy the fittingly corporate-serving pressure to ignore everything and focus only on the product. Why should you expect corporation to value consumers' trust if you don't even value your own trust?